Thai Para: Chyrkov Faces Off Against the World

Thai Para: Chyrkov Faces Off Against the World

Playing at Thailand Para Badminton International 2022 gives Ukraine’s Oleksandr Chyrkov the feeling he’s taking on the world.

“My friends are fighting in Ukraine and I’m fighting here.”

Chyrkov has been struggling with his focus recently as his thoughts keep drifting away from competitions to friends and family back home.

“The last two tournaments I was nervous and psychologically affected by what’s happening in my country. Friends and even our team’s former physiotherapist are in the military,” he shared of the situation in Ukraine following Russian invasion in February.

Chyrkov unleashes the power.

Encouraging messages from them have spurred him on and living in France for the last three months has meant freedom to train and travel. Despite the lack of sponsors, the team has received support from its National Paralympic Committee and other donors for tickets and expenses to tournaments.

“I have no family other than my 71-year-old grandmother in Dnipro. We speak every week about the usual things a grandmother would tell her grandson but also about the air raids, which she says are less now.”

Chyrkov was nine when he sustained a left leg injury after being knocked down by a car. He only started playing badminton at the age of 20 because of his coach Dmytro Zozulia.

“When he first asked, I wasn’t interested but he was very persuasive. Now I think it’s the best decision I’ve made.”

On Wednesday, Chyrkov played both of his men’s singles Standing Lower (SL3) Group B matches.

Despite his 24-22 21-15 loss to Pramod Bhagat, the 21-18 21-13 win over another Indian Mohammad Arwaz Ansari placed him second in the group.

“Pramod is very strong and his wrist skills are something I’m trying to learn. I started out with powerful smashes and drop shots to the net which worked but by the second game I was exhausted. It’s difficult to breathe in this heat.”

Chyrkov takes on another of India’s top athletes Manoj Sarkar in the quarterfinals today.